Knysna Forest: 4x4 adventuring along secret, century-old routes

2018-11-13 09:36 - In partnership with Bhejane Tours
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There is a place on our doorstep that has been closed to all forms of traffic for almost a hundred years.  It is a place which holds many secrets and abounds with life and beauty. It is a place that our very existence depends upon.

Bhejane 4X4 Adventures with special permission from South African National Parks, have obtained the keys to enter this secret realm - and now you can join them for a guided, self-drive 4x4, day-trip through the deep Knysna forests.

Your trip starts at 08h30 at the Sasol Filling Station in Harkerville, on the N2, 13ks on the Plettenberg Bay side of Knysna, where you will meet your guide from Bhejane 4X4 Adventures who will give a short briefing and hand out 2-way radios to all participating vehicles. 

Interesting fact: Your Bhejane guides are direct descendants of the Italians that were lured here in 1880 to try and start a silkworm farming operation in the Knysna forests.  

Here's what you need to know if you want to enjoy a 4x4 Knysna Forest Adventure:

  • Where: Knysna Forest, Bhejane concession area just north of the Garden of Eden 
  • When: Daily departures - Booking is essential
  • Contact: 044 535 9033 or email 
  • Cost using your own vehicle: R450 per person (Adults) / R250 students & scholars / R120 children under 10 years (must be accompanied by an adult)
  • Cost riding along with the Bhejane crew: R500 per person / R250 students & scholars / R120 children under 10 years (must be accompanied by an adult)

'Phantom’ elephants in the Garden of Eden

Together you will enter the Bhejane concession area just north of the Garden of Eden where the guides will give a full introduction and a description of the morning's activities.

The only unfenced, wild elephants in South Africa occur in the deep Knysna Forest.  These so-called ‘phantom’ elephants, that rarely get seen, have been living in the forest for over 200 years.  They are a mystery to conservationists and scientists.

WATCH: Elusive Knysna elephant captured on camera

There exists an ongoing argument about the number of elephants currently found in the forest. There could be as few as one or as many as eight elephants.

From here on, your group meanders slowly into the heart of the remaining indigenous Knysna forest, stopping en route to explore and discover many of the forest's secrets - its ecology, its history, its inhabitants, threats and its future.

The tracks that you will use are the original logging tracks used by the early woodcutters, which are now the management paths utilised by SAN Parks. Road conditions are safe, ecologically friendly and not at all detrimental to your vehicle. Participants of all ages are welcome as the forest offers 
something for everyone. 

Coffee, tea and juice will be served en route and you can look forward to the culinary skills of the forestry ladies at the Diepwalle Community Restaurant.

The Knysna woodcutters were a unique group of people that took refuge in the forest in the 1800’s and did most of the hard labour cutting wood for the government and private contractors.  Life was hard, their work even harder... But they kept going as the pioneers of the forest.

SEE: SA's Big Trees: In Search of the Kings of the Knysna Fores

A narrow gauge railway line existed in the forest in the early 1900’s.  It was built to move timber and cut wood from the heart of the forest down to Knysna.  The famous ‘coffee pot engines’, as they were known, could be heard wheezing their way up to Deep Walls (Diepwalle), the final stop in the forest.  From there, the downhill run to Knysna was easier. 

The Secrets of the Knysna Forest can only be discovered through your participation in this holistic experience. Photo opportunities are many, so don't forget your cameras.  You may also wish to bring a jacket, bird and tree books, binoculars and comfortable shoes (although we won't be walking any long distances).

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